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Hosted VoIP Providers Should Provide More Personal Service

Posted by Mark Greim on Aug 30, 2022 9:54:12 AM

Hosted VoIP providers who refer their customers to impersonal online resources or a self-servicing portal are missing a golden opportunity to deliver outstanding customer service. Business owners do not have time to navigate a website or web portal, devise a plan for the phone system programming, learn how to execute the programming, and train their own staff. They have a business to run and operating a solid communication system is a key to being a successful business.

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Tags: voip service provider selection, Hosted VoIP phone service

Experience the sipVine Approach to VoIP Phone Service

Posted by Mark Greim on Apr 19, 2022 10:43:07 AM

Telecom companies and Hosted VoIP phone service providers do not enjoy a positive reputation when it comes to delivering a positive customer experience. From our beginnings in 2005, sipVine’s mission was to set a new bar for customer service experience. Achieving such a lofty goal takes a fresh approach from many different aspects and customer touch points.

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Tags: voip service provider selection, Changing Phone Service Providers

Make a No-Regret Decision Regarding Your Business Phone Service

Posted by Mark Greim on Aug 10, 2021 9:19:40 AM

Every day, you face decisions regarding your business, some easy, some difficult. The successful business makes more decisions that prove to be favorable than they make decisions that they regret. When moving your business communications to a VoIP phone service, you simply cannot afford to regret the service provider selection. Customer communications and internal processes need to be enhanced, not impaired by your decision.

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Tags: voip service provider selection, Business Phone Service

5 Things to Consider When Selecting a VoIP Service Provider

Posted by Mark Greim on Aug 3, 2021 1:00:00 PM

Congratulations, you have taken the first step to enhance your communication platform and upgrade your capabilities by considering a move to a VoIP Service Provider.  Before you make the switch, here are five considerations for you to include in your evaluation of potential providers:

  1. Does the VoIP service provider configure the system to how you do business? There are many VoIP service providers who "bundle and drop ship".  These are usually priced very low, but you will have a very basic configuration.  If you have a growing business or are already a business of size and complexity, gain a comfort level with the provider's ability to listen and understand how you do business and see if they will effectively guide you through their alternatives available.  Large national providers expect you to understand how to navigate their provisioning portal and handle all of the programming yourself.  Finding a  VoIP service provider that programs the features and delivers a customized solution specific to how you do business would benefit you greatly.
  2. Does the VoIP service provider offer a number of solutions to meet your needs? This has evolved over the years.  If you have an 0n-premises VoIP system, determine if the VoIP provider can deliver sip trunks to the platform.  However, most businesses have already moved to a Hosted VoIP phone service platform, providing your business with the flexibility required to compete in today's markets.  The solutions to look for surround the variety of VoIP phone options that best meet the needs of your employees.  VoIP desk phones are ideal for in-office use, although many have moved to desktop soft phones.  Remote or highly mobile employees tend to use either the desktop soft phone or a soft phone app that resides on their smart phone.
  3. How agreeable is the VoIP phone service provider to assist in network troubleshooting to resolve call quality issues?   This is where the rubber hits the road for most VoIP providers.  With plug and play phones, having technical support willing to troubleshoot network issues is rare.  Problems can occur on the local network or with the internet connection provided by another carrier.  Avoid selecting VoIP service providers with the attitude that this is "not my problem".  Granted, phone calls are a symptom of the problem, but it should be seen in everyone's best interest that these problems are diagnosed and resolved.  Technical support can provide guidance on router settings that may be causing a conflict, help evaluate if there are problems with bandwidth utilization on the local area network, and run tests to see if the internet circuit is not performing at a level to deliver uninterrupted VoIP traffic.  Additionally, does the provider offer a device to help prioritize voice traffic over data?  This was a huge issue back in the day when internet carriers were not delivering large and affordable internet circuits.  But, with the amount of business applications in the cloud, contention for bandwidth can still be an issue.  So, ask your potential VoIP service provider how they approach these situations.  You will be able to tell very quickly if it is something they do not even consider supporting or assisting you with!
  4. Is customer support do-it-yourself?  Large national providers tend to provide off-shore call center support.  This support tends to provide guidance to the customer on how to navigate their self-service portal and certainly does not make changes on behalf of the customer.  Granted, some changes are easy to make.  Others, like mentioned in the first consideration above, take a greater understanding of the programming required to meet the need.  Examples would be main line call flow, call queue set up, auto attendant changes, time of day routing differences, etc.  Most businesses have their own activity to manage and have little time to figure out how to work a third-party portal.  Look for a VoIP service provider who will listen to what you are looking to accomplish and make the changes for you.  
  5. What do their customers say about their VoIP service provider?  Take steps to talk to their customers.  Are they satisfied and why? Do they deliver what they promise in the sales cycle?  Like with many vendor evaluations, reference checking is a very important tool.  Ask for references and, after they deliver their standard set, ask for a reference in your area and one in your industry.  See how quickly and willing they are to deliver additional references that may not be on their normal list of references.

Consider adding sipVine's complete business communication solution to your evaluation list! A better phone system for your small business with advanced features to match your unique business needs! Make your company's business communications better by engaging better customer experiences at every touchpoint. Want to learn more? Our small business phone service representatives are here to answer any questions you have!

 

 

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Tags: voip service provider selection

Where the National Business VoIP Providers Fall Short

Posted by Mark Greim on Jan 27, 2021 9:30:00 AM

Most businesses have made the switch to Hosted VoIP phone services, taking advantage of powerful features to improve their communication strategies both internally and externally. They also received the added benefit of finding an alternative to their traditional telephone provider who reciprocated their years of service with rate increases, outsourced customer service, and old technology. In making the switch, many have gravitated to the “national” providers whose marketing budgets cast a wide net over potential customers. In doing so, these businesses have found similarities to their previous relationships with their telecommunication provider and have been left underwhelmed and underserved in the process.

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Tags: voip service provider selection, Business VoIP

Unsure Which Direction to Go? Find the Best Phone System for Your Small Business.

Posted by Mark Greim on Feb 12, 2019 9:36:00 AM

You know it is time for a new phone system, but you're overwhelmed with how to start your search.  This will help you determine what type of phone service provider is best for your small business.  Many small businesses have determined that their existing phone system is outdated and past the point for repair and they are looking where to turn to maximize their new investment.  Their current phone system is failing or falling behind the features and functionality their peer businesses or competitors are now enjoying since moving to a Hosted VoIP phone service.  Even though it is clear through high adoption rates that most companies have selected Hosted VoIP as the best phone system for small business, it is more of a challenge to find the service provider that will work best for you.

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Tags: voip service provider selection, small business phone service

The Case for Full Service Hosted VoIP vs. DIY

Posted by Mark Greim on Jul 27, 2018 1:02:15 PM

Most small businesses have already made the shift to a Hosted VoIP phone service. Many have been unable to take full advantage of the features and flexibility of these systems due to the inability to navigate the do-it-yourself programming portal pushed by the nationally branded VoIP providers.  This has led to frustration with the technology. The good news is that there are Hosted VoIP providers that can take care of the complexities of the programming and help conform the phone system to the needs of the business.

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Tags: voip service provider selection, Customer Service

Narrowing the List of Hosted VoIP Providers

Posted by Mark Greim on Oct 24, 2016 11:07:28 AM

If your business is ready to make the switch to hosted VoIP phone service, or you are ready to look for alternatives to the national hosted VoIP providers, how do you narrow down the seemingly large group of alternative providers in the marketplace?  It isn't an easy task and it will take a little effort.  However, the reward for find the right solution for your business will benefit you for years to come.

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Tags: voip service provider selection, Hosted VoIP, Changing Phone Service Providers

You do NOT Need More Bandwidth for VoIP

Posted by Mark Greim on Mar 14, 2014 11:47:00 AM

There is no nice way to put this, but certain national Hosted VoIP providers are giving the industry a bad name.   There are countless examples of businesses who are experiencing poor voice quality with these providers and receive the standard recommendation to increase their internet bandwidth.  This solution costs more money and isn’t always the best advice.

The fact of the matter is that VoIP calls do not take much bandwidth, less than 80kb per call.  However, because voice and data packets are sharing the same connection, there is always an opportunity for voice packets to be interrupted by data packets.  Expanding bandwidth doesn’t always take care of the problem.

One of sipVine’s biggest differentiators in the market is that we believe that call quality is best controlled on the customer’s network.  We provide a router or a transparent bridge that has Quality of Service programming built in, ensuring your voice calls have priority.  This allows your business to right size the amount of bandwidth to match the needs of the business and not overbuild just for VoIP. 

Certainly, there are occasions where the amount of data activity is over-saturating the internet bandwidth.  In those situations, QoS will not be able to work as well as it should and the bandwidth will need to be addressed.  However, we are bringing businesses on to our platform on daily bases that have experienced this poor advice from a national hosted VoIP provider.  In addition to providing a localized QoS device, we have helped our customers troubleshoot issues with their internet circuit to find the root cause of the call quality concerns.  This has saved them from blindly adding bandwidth, thus saving them dollars on a monthly basis.

To learn more, check out our whitepaper, Voice Quality: The Ultimate Differentiator in VoIP Providers.

 Download Whitepaper

About the author:  Mark Greim is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at sipVine, a provider of a variety of VoIP phone solutions and services. Mark has extensive experience working for start-up or entrepreneurial organizations and has a passion for affordable, reliable, and purposeful technology solutions in those environments. 

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Tags: VoIP Bandwidth Requirements, voip service provider selection

sipVine Blog | Add Coolness to Your Hosted VoIP System

Posted by Mark Greim on Nov 14, 2013 11:45:00 AM

One of the great advantages of implementing a Hosted VoIP Phone Service is that it can be customized to match the needs of the business.  There are a variety of standard items that should be customizable in any VoIP phone solution.  The right hosted VoIP provider can serve in a consultative manner to discern how those items should be programmed to meet the business requirements.  Great providers can take customization to another level and have your system do things to delight your associates and customers.

As you compare providers, be mindful that some provide “do-it-yourself” web portals.  These are great for routine administration, but higher level customization requires a provider that is willing to create the program and able to understand the business application.  At sipVine, a mid-western based national hosted VoIP provider, we made a strategic decision to provide as much customization as possible.  Robert Conner, sipVine’s CEO, states:  “Frankly, custom programming to specific customer needs doesn’t fit well in a mass-volume, high-margin approach.  However, we believe that customers will become long-term, loyal fans if you position yourself as their personal phone department.  We have the technological talent to be able to do some great things with the software, so our customer should be able to reap the benefits!”

There are some customizable aspects of VoIP systems that are table stakes for any hosted VoIP service company, whether it is from a provider like sipVine or from someone who provides a web portal for option setting.  These should include the following:

  • Call flow direction – ring groups
  • Time of day routing
  • Automated attendant options

However, there can be some cool things your system can do if you choose the right provider.  Here are a few examples of custom programming in which sipVine has provided to their customers:

    • Dynamic on-call programming – there have been several customers who deploy a varied on-call schedule through a selection on their after-hours auto attendant.  They are simply able to punch in some codes on their phones that select the specific person or ring group they want to be on-call for the day or period.
    • Multiple caller ID delivery – some companies have multiple subsidiaries or brands they represent.  sipVine can fix a specific caller ID being delivered by various associates, and provide the ability to deliver different caller IDs depending certain outside line access selections. 
    • E911 notification – one of sipVine’s customers requested a central notification process if a phone in their context dials 911.  This is unique and important to their application.  If a 911 is dialed from phone on their network, a central phone is immediately notified with an audible message and email notice is delivered to designated parties.

Colin Wells, sipVine’s CTO expands, “We have built quite a number of custom applications for customers that we have since rolled out as standard options.  The best ideas for new capabilities definitely are born out of real world applications.  We haven’t figured out how to get the phones to empty the trash, but we can certainly automate a notification to a phone that it is time to empty the trash!  In all seriousness, there are even more custom programs that occur behind the scenes that most people don’t know about, like security scripts and automated setting back-ups.  We think they are cool, but our customers are not aware of them.  They just know that they are in good hands.”

There are a number of choices out there for a hosted phone service provider.  As you conduct your research, see which providers are “quote driven” and which ones want to know about your business and how you utilize the phones.  That will give you a pretty good idea as to how they will service you going forward.   

About the author:  Mark Greim is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at sipVine, a provider of a variety of digital phone solutions and services. Mark has extensive experience working for start-up or entrepreneurial organizations and has a passion for affordable, reliable, and purposeful technology solutions in those environments. 

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Tags: voip service provider selection, Configuring digital phone service

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